New game warden 'back home'
CAMERON—Chasing down fishermen in the blackness of the middle of the night in the Gulf of Mexico, Charles Mayer sometimes wondered
"You board those shrimp boats and it's pitch black," Mayer said. "When we ran those boats, sometimes there would be fog and we didn't even know where we were going. And the waves would be three to five feet, so the leap from your boat to the back of their's was a leap of faith."
So in the light of day, when the opportunity came his way, he headed to familiar territory—back home.
Mayer took a considerably lesser leap of faith when he took over for former Milam County Game Warden Mike Mitchell, who took a similar position in Port Lavaca where he has family.
"I'll miss that in a way," the soft-spoken Mayer said of the midnight madness. "But one of the reasons we moved back was to be able to hunt more, those type of things, in a rural setting. Rockport was turning into a tourist town.
"It's good to be home."
Taking over the job on May 1, the Cameron native Mayer is now the overseer of 1,022 square miles of land where five of those miles are water.
Mayer, 30, is one of those fortunate few that knew what he wanted to do from an early age.
"I've always enjoyed the outdoors," he said. "I grew up in the rivers around here. It was an easy decision to do something that keeps me outdoors."
After graduating from Cameron in 1997, Mayer attended Sam Houston where he earned a degree in Science and Criminal Justice.
An internship with the Aransas County office led Mayer to a job there after he finished his sixmonth stint at the Texas Game Warden Academy in Austin.
Mayer was one of six game wardens in Aransas County.
When the Milam County job came open, it was a natural transition for him.
The irony of it is, because of his job, Mayer doesn't get to hunt and fish as much as he would like to although he admits that one of the perks of the job is that he makes his own hours.
"It's a simple fact that on good fishing or hunting days, I'm working. I'm out there checking people, interacting with people who are hunting and fishing.
"The flexibility of the job is a big plus," he said. "If I want to go in early and then spend the afternoon with the family, I can do it."
Mayer and his wife Bobbie— also a Cameron native who is planning on attending the University of Texas—need all the family time they can get these days.
They just had a little girl, Lauren, who is only a month old, who joins older brother Charles II, who is five.
"She's been fun," he said. "She's doing all the things she's supposed to do."
The family has been staying with Bobbie's parents while they search for the perfect home for themselves.
One of the activities Mayer thoroughly enjoyed during his stay in Rockport was the youth hunts.
"We tr ied to get k ids that hadn't had much experience in the outdoors and expose them to something they had never done before."
He plans on initiating those types of activities here in Milam County.
Since he has taken office, Mayer has been inundated with calls and questions about the county's new deer antler limit.
Many counties in Texas, including Milam, have adopted an antler restriction regulation. Based on harvest data collected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department over harvest of younger age bucks has resulted in a poor age structure.
"People are having a hard time understanding it," he said. "And I've spent a lot of time trying to explain it."
Mayer is planning a series of town hall meetings in Rockdale and Cameron in October to allow people to get to meet him and answer any questions anyone might have.
While county Game Wardens have a litany of responsibilities, Mayer's most important duty is clear to him.
"I'm here to take care of my land owners," he said, "and to keep people from abusing our resources and keep them intact for our kids."